All set for our 20th Anniversary? YPI CREW marks two decades in yacht crew recruitment.
For the past 20 years the yacht crew recruitment team at YPI CREW has allowed new generations to discover yachting, seasoned crew to further their careers and widen their talent base – bonding people together and creating new connections is what the recruiters at YPI CREW enjoy doing.
In anticipation of marking its 20th anniversary, YPI CREW’s president, Laurence Lewis reflects on what it took to become a front-runner in yacht crew recruitment.
20 years is a milestone not all recruitment businesses reach – what is the key to this success?
Our fantastic team, without a doubt.
I am privileged to work with intelligent, caring, courageous colleagues, many of whom I have known for a long time. Helen joined YPI CREW on day one in 2002, Jacqui and Fiona joined in 2006, Ulrica and Marjorie in 2009 and 2010 respectively. We have grown the company together as a team, and I believe that our contribution to the world of crewing is unique because of this. Other talented colleagues have joined later and for me, it is a source of great happiness to see everybody mature within the group and become the best in their field and in their job.
Together, we have raised the bar to meet our customer’s needs and over the last 20 years, we have touched the lives of thousands of crew for whom we have found work. I am obviously very proud of that.
I’ve always strived to create a company where my colleagues are empowered and set high standards, with “partnership” the cornerstone of the company – in fact it’s in our name, that’s what the letter “P” in YPI CREW stands for. I’m talking about Partnership with our crew in the way we champion them to secure job interviews, Partnership with our clients when we advise them and solve their problems and finally, Partnership between colleagues as we help each other and operate as a team. Esprit de corps is very important to me and I try to instil a positive winning culture and foster an ownership mindset amongst employees which is why, for instance, I set up a dynamic profit share scheme well over ten years ago.
What are some of YPI CREW’s memorable or challenging moments?
My most memorable moments revolve around my colleagues; the first Antigua charter shows we attended as a team and the excitement of being there with captains and crew, the parties we organised at Catherine’s café with our clients and a few years ago before covid, the days out in Porquerolles island or in Hyeres.
Also memorable is the job interview with my colleague Lisa. We had an intensely busy season and needed assistance with admin work in the interior department. I only had one question and hoped she would give me a reassuring answer to “how good a fire fighter are you “? Five years on, Lisa is a brilliant well-respected recruiter.
Memorable is also being the first crew agency in France to obtain the Lloyds Register MLC 2006 endorsement which is something we worked hard towards in 2013 and for which we still get audited yearly. It is a voluntary exercise which gives us kudos and a competitive edge.
My whole journey with YPI CREW has been extremely eventful and challenging with, over time, no less than three different business partners and various office moves as we expanded the company. I was fortunate in 2002 to meet Alex Braden and Mike Everton-Jones from Yachting Partners International, two long-time legends in the industry who believed in me and with whom we set up YPI CREW. In 2007 as they stepped out of the industry, YPI CREW joined the BRS group, a leading ship broking Company from Paris, under whose umbrella I was able to further develop the company.
2018 was perhaps the most eventful year of all as the majority stake of YPI CREW was acquired by the Schulte Group, one of the world’s leading shipping Companies. I am extremely proud to be part of such a long-established and respected group, able to benefit from their wisdom and vision.
What are the three main qualities you relied on to build YPI CREW?
I would say grit, adaptability and a wish to conduct business in an elegant fashion which, for me, implies fighting for what I think is right yet being fair and seeing the long-term picture. Also, I cannot but quote – again – Michael Gambon in the brilliant “Layer Cake” movie in which he says “ the art of good business is being a good middleman”. Of course, he was not talking about recruiters, but I cannot find a quote which more aptly describes our profession. I love it and definitely, to succeed in recruitment, you need to be a good middle person with 360-degree vision.
What are the plans for the future?
As a company part of a large international group, we are ramping up our investments and preparing for opportunities in the coming years. The Schulte Group have an active and inspired mergers & acquisitions department based in Singapore that deploy a holistic approach that enables us to look at recruitment, training, crew housing or other related services as a whole. Through their leadership we were able to acquire Edmiston crew in 2020 and we remain interested in speaking with our peers in the industry.
Over the next few years, we will also be working on attracting more diverse crew into yachting. There are 27 countries in the EU whose citizens can travel with ease around the world, yet many are totally under-represented in yachting so we are formulating a strategy to tackle this issue.
The more immediate future is dictated by risk mitigation as we navigate the world of sanctions. At the heart of our efforts is the need to work in a compliant way to ensure crew we place have a stable and safe environment. We of course have been affected by the war in Ukraine and as a company have decided to support and donate to Unicef whilst also acting and helping locally on a few targeted initiatives emanating from my colleagues.
Later on this year, in September, we are organising our 20th anniversary party. It will be our opportunity to thank our clients and friends for their support, loyalty and trust over the years; it’s a milestone we will want to share with people who have trusted us along the way.